Arburg's Allrounder has proven to be a key fixture on the Continental production line, with the company taking delivery of its 10th injection moulding machine in November 2016.
From left: Sales Adviser Arno Ruppert and Key Account Manager Philipp Schaber (Arburg), Process Technician Philippe Ebert (Continental), Turnkey Department Manager Oliver Giesen (Arburg), Director of Production HUD-Spiegel Dr Sebastian Wiebel, Michael Alves from Maintenance and Karl-Heinz Baier from Material Procurement (Continental) as well as Department Manager Applications Technology Dr Thomas Walther (Arburg).
The new Allrounder is being employed for the production of aspherical mirrors for head-up displays (HUDs). The company has been cooperating with Arburg on an exclusive basis in this highly demanding segment since 2010, for which it solely uses specially equipped electric machines from the Alldrive series. Demand for head-up displays is growing steadily: annual production increased by 70 per cent to around 600,000 parts between 2015 and 2016 alone. There is no end in sight for this growth.
Head-up displays from Continental are installed in cars of various brands throughout the world. These use aspherical mirrors to project all driving-related information (such as the current road speed) onto the windscreen, and thus directly into the driver's line of vision – an important contribution towards greater driver safety. Displaying this information on the screen without distortion requires moulds with accurate contours and high-precision surfaces. When producing the mirrors, it is essential to accurately reproduce the different curvatures of a wide variety of car windscreens.
Continental has been using Allrounders in plastics processing since 1970. In 2010, cooperation intensified in the field of head-up displays, as the production of aspherical mirrors makes extremely stringent demands in terms of precision. In the case of the injected part, the permissible deviation from the target geometry is less than five micrometres, in other words the diameter of a human hair.
Accordingly, technological cooperation between the two companies covers not only machine design, but also joint process optimisation in terms of sequencing and programming.
The first eight Arburg machines, which were specially configured for HUD production, were Allrounder 720 A machines with a clamping force of 3,200 kN and size 400 and 800 injection units. Two larger Alldrive machines followed in 2016: the Allrounder 920 A machines with a clamping force of 5,000 kN and size 1300 injection unit are also used by Continental for two-cavity moulds, enabling output to be doubled.
In order to mould the mirrors from Cycloolefin-Copolymer (COC), a special transparent thermoplastic, the electric Allrounders of the Alldrive machine series feature injection compression moulding equipment. A sensor in the mould detects the coining gap and the internal mould pressure during injection compression moulding. The Selogica machine control system monitors these measurement signals. Near-contour temperature control is implemented in up to twelve individual mould temperature control zones. The sprue is removed immediately in the mould.
After the injection moulding process, a six-axis robot with specially adapted gripper removes the mirrors without bending them and transfers them to a laser station. Here, each part is marked with its own individual production data, so that it can be identified directly and tracked through production. This step is in line with the requirements of Industry 4.0. Next, the mirrors are set down onto a cooling station, where they are cooled from below with ionised air. This is followed by 100 per cent measurement and vacuum deposition of highly-reflective aluminium on the front side.
The whole process, including packaging, is fully automated and takes place in a cleanroom. This reliably prevents contamination from dust particles.
Continental is now producing its third generation of head-up displays. While the first-generation moulded parts still required downstream assembly operations, the optical and mechanical functions are now directly integrated in the current versions. They can be installed directly in the housing, which enhances production efficiency. HUD development is moving in the direction of larger mirrors, better image quality, integration of assist systems and augmented reality applications.